Miller Might Not Be The Retiring Type

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said that his fundraising letter
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said that his fundraising letter "speaks for itself." (Rob Carr - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    
By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2008

A year and a half after Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. announced that this term would be his last, the heavy betting among his colleagues is that the Annapolis titan will seek reelection in 2010.

A major fundraiser planned for next month is the latest sign that Miller (D-Calvert), Maryland's longest-serving Senate president, is interested in staying.

An invitation being sent in coming days does not explicitly say he is running for a 10th Senate term. But it speaks of Miller's desire to work with the governor and senators "both now and in the future" and says, "I have not forgotten that there is an election" in 2010.

"This is the most hopeful sign I've seen," said Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles), chairman of the Finance Committee. Middleton is considered one of several potential successors to Miller, but he has urged him to continue serving. "It's like 180 degrees from the announcement that he was retiring," Middleton said.

Miller, a gregarious lawyer who has presided over the Senate for more than two decades, declined to be interviewed, saying through an aide only that the fundraising letter "speaks for itself."

The fact that he is holding a fundraiser does not guarantee that Miller, 65, will seek reelection. Traditionally, he has spent far more of his campaign funds on fellow Democrats' races than on his own, and Miller has said he plans to support his colleagues in 2010 whether he is on the ballot or not.

Still, the nature of the fundraiser Miller is planning and other factors have led colleagues and associates to conclude that Miller might use the June 4 event to announce plans to seek reelection and continuing serving as Senate president. The invitation says that Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and other Senate leaders will attend the $1,000-per-person event in Baltimore.

"I think he is planning on staying," said Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr. (D-Anne Arundel), who is close to Miller. "That's my gut."

Shortly after his 2006 reelection, Miller told reporters that he intended to retire after his next term ended. "At that point, I can step down and turn the gavel over to the next generation," Miller said. "I intend to work with them, serve out the four-year term and step aside."

His announcement prompted prolonged jockeying among several would-be successors, including Middleton and two other committee chairmen, Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) and Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery). None has said publicly that he would challenge Miller for the presidency if he returns.

Currie, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said yesterday that he now assumes Miller will seek reelection to his seat and the Senate presidency, which is determined by a vote of the chamber's 47 members.

Frosh, chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, declined to speculate.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company